Monday, February 5, 2018

Catching Up in February

I have not posted anything in a couple of weeks, so time for an update. The best news came in an email I received from a student I had helped online build model airplanes for the Wright Capacitor event in Science Olympiad several years ago. I have to give her much of the credit for asking good questions and being so responsive by email. She was thrilled to receive 6th place out of 61 teams at the national competition and decided to pursue aerospace engineering in college and has an internship lined up at Boeing this summer.

Witch Hawk 500

Wright Capacitor Model

This winter I have been busy building another fleet of free flight model airplanes, the building went pretty fast but finishing up all the ending details has not gone as fast. Of course I had to try some new things; one was the tissue over mylar covering technique on the New Gollywock rubber model I am building. I had covered with mylar once before and that went pretty well but I must have not applied the dope as consistent as needed to attach the tissue. Some places look real good, other spot have some sagging tissue, from a few feet away it looks fine and the finished structure is rigid and light.

New Gollywock

After building and flying my first glow powered model in several years last year the Basic Yeller powered by a Cox PeeWee .020 I decided to try more glow models again. I started building my largest free flight yet, the Witch Hawk 500 to be powered by a K&B .19. This is my first model with a mechanical timer for motor cutoff and DT, the timer is a Texas Timers MaxIIIA. I wanted to do everything by the book, so used the mounting kit and the plastic dust cover. Covering is Polyspan on surfaces and silkspan on the fuselage.

Basic Yeller
1/2A Streak Free Flight

Two smaller glow models are under construction also; these are the ½ A 2018 One Design models at the Nats, Streak and Smarty. BMJR had a sale on the two kits so I purchased both. The Streak is covered now but still needs to have clear dope and some trim, Smarty is in final construction stage.  I have purchased airbrush equipment but still waiting for the pressure regulator to arrive. There are plenty of Youtube videos on spray painting that I have been watching before experimenting with the equipment.

Flying Aces Moth

Another rubber power model kit that I am finally building is the Peck kit of the Flying Aces Moth. I also have the Volare short-kit that I might build with any improvements I see are needed. Instead of the included plastic propeller I purchased a prop blank from Volare, the wood propeller is almost half the weight of the plastic propeller. This model will have a viscous DT, I used Manuel Cisneros article on Rotary Damper Timers as a guide for setting up a DT system for this plane.

Icon A5 Electric RC

Flash X18 on Frozen Lake Winona
When the temperature and wind are not too bad I have been doing some winter flying both RC electric and some simpler free flight models. The frozen lake close to where I live gives a huge unobstructed flying site but so far there has been little snow for cushion when the model lands. Crashing on ice is about like crashing on concrete. When there was a little snow I had fun doing touch and go’s with the Icon A5 park flyer electric RC. I have been test flying the Flash X18 rubber powered free flight that Dick Bertrand uses in his Free Flight Rescue program. With some minor tweaks I am getting more consistent flights.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lost Blue Ridge Special on Ice

I should have known better, when a free flight model has a dark background behind it, losing sight of it is very easy. After two weeks of really cold weather, the lake close to my house was really frozen over hard; many vehicles and fish houses now dotted the lake. It warmed up last Sunday and I flew simple rubber powered models from the lake in weather that was slightly above freezing. Before it again turned really cold I wanted to get out on the lake again and took a day of vacation.

Blue Ridge Special on Ice

Forecast for the wind was to be more to the South which I thought the bluff would block but it appeared to be more out of North but it was switching around too, from the North drifted model towards the bluff. On a dark day with bare trees in the background it was easier to lose sight of a model. I had some flights on the Flash X18 but the last flight it did not transition well and came back hard to the ice breaking the plastic propeller hanger.  I then started flying the Blue Ridge Special built from plans a few years ago. Not very smart on my part I covered the model in green and yellow tissue which is hard to see in the grass but not so much in the snow.

Flash X 18

After a couple of flights where it landed fairly close I cranked in a few more turns and it started circling towards the bluff. Big mistake on my part I took my eyes off it for a couple of seconds while I reached down to pick up the other model. When I looked up, panic set in as I could not see the model flying again. I started walking towards where I had last seen it, now I just could not find it on the lake which was a combination of black and white because much of the snow had melted off.

AMA Maxi Jr

After about a half hour of looking, I decided to go home to get my binoculars and grab another airplane. When I came back I looked from the opposite bank and could spot a clump of leaves near the opposite shoreline but no sign of the model. Walking out half way, I launched my AMA Maxi Jr model and watched how it drifted. It drifted in at least a couple of directions during the flight, it appeared it was encountering some lift at times.

Blue Ridge 2 Pack

With the binoculars I continued searching the frozen surface, having never seen the model land is a bad thing. Maybe it did find a thermal and fly away, or maybe it went scooting across the ice in the gusty wind. After another hour of looking I gave up the search. Recently I had purchased the Blue Ridge Special short-kit 2-pack from Volare; I should just build two new models.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links  - Volare Products 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Cool Start for 2018 - Model Building

Most years I fly some type of model airplane on New Years day but not this year, just before the real cold that came on Christmas I had been flying my Icon A5 electric RC amphibian from the snow and a couple of rubber powered foam free flights, when the temperature got below 20 degrees F, I spent time building planes for 2018. In my last blog post I shared some pictures of what I am working on, those planes are farther along but you cannot see much change. Funny how those last details can take so long. 

Flash X18

Icon A5 from 2016 Picture
I did build a simple catapult glider during part of one evening, the Rookie from Stevens AeroModel. Everything included, even catapult rubber and stick, pennies for balance.  I also have the Hand Launch Glider With Dethermalizer kit from Stevens Aeromodel to build yet.  Arriving yesterday were a couple of more catapult glider kits from J&H Aerospace, no time for photo yet.  I had also received a sample kit of Flash X18 rubber power model a classic design of Frank Zaic and that built quickly, too bad it is so cold for testing.

Rookie Kit

Tubes used to Key Fuselage Pieces
Rokkie Complete

Trying a new to me electronic DT timer from Will Hubin FM-10.  I connected it up and tested with a servo I had on the bench and it worked fine. There is an external box that you program with and then download to the timer. I found a really small servo that weighs 1.8 grams that I plan to use with the timer in a rubber powered model, total weight is 7.92 grams. Rather heavy for this model but it should be 100% accurate.

Ready to Fly Weight

Programming Box in Rear for Timer

I had also purchased a wire winder to create my own tension springs from Volare Products. Some evening soon I will try to create some springs.

Bill Kuhl

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflections on Free Flight 2017

Some of the best times I had this year were enjoying my model aviation hobby. After going to the 2016 Free Flight Nats and some Minnesota contests put on by the MMAC club I was primed for a winter of building more models. Some of the components and materials I had to work with were the first time for me such as covering with ¼ mylar, rolling a balsa tube fuselage, creating a folding propeller assembly, setting up DT systems with mechanical timers, learning to braid a rubber motor, and building completely from plans. I had to ask a lot of questions but people in the free flight community were happy to help and I received a whole lot of good advice.

Polecat X P30

Wilbur Oldtime Rubber Model MMAC Field

For the most part the planes I built flew pretty well, I still have some to learn about towing a towline glider; that I will work on in 2018. None of the planes were lost and most are in flyable condition, the E36 Starduster I am going to retire because I have tried to patch it one too many times. I learned a whole about trimming a power model with that plane.  From what I learned I fixed up my Super Pearl E36 and had it flying really nice at the 2017 Nats.

Super Pearl E36 at 2017 Nats

I was really happy with the Polecat X P30 model I built from Don DeLoach short-kit, this model did not need a single adjustment to fly well. I was afraid it was too windy to fly P30 at Nats but flying it in a contest in Minnesota for the first time it got a third place. My Wilbur oldtime rubber model did well after just needing some thrust adjustments.  The PeeWee 30 model Basic Yeller built completely from plans had many good flights this year, this was the first time I have used a glow engine in several years. Flying in the E20 event at the Nats I think I came in 7th with BMJR Sky Demon which might be near the middle, hopefully I can build a more competitive E20 for 2018.

Sky Demon E20

Basic Yeller 2017 Nats

E36 Starduster

After just a couple of years flying contest free flight models I do not expect to be winning against people that have been doing this for years. If I did I would no doubt lose interest, having the challenge out there for the future is what keeps me interested. For next year I am building a bigger glow powered model, Witch Hawk 500 and another oldtime rubber model a New Gollywock. For the One Design event I am building a Streak powered by a K&B .049. For E36 NOS I am building an Eureka another Don DeLoach design.

Projects for 2018

Witch Hawk 500 for 2018
Flying Aces Moth

New Gollywock

At the end of 2017 flying season or at least what normal people tolerate for cold I flew my first control line model in a long time, an old design the Prop Buster. This time it is electric powered with a system that is comparable to .15 glow engine. The first flight was too windy and I had too long of lines resulting in a crash. After minor repairs I had it flying on shorter lines. For next season I am going to build a basic .049 glow model to get more comfortable with CL flying before risking the electric model.

Electric Control Line

Thank you to everyone who has been reading these articles, seeing the number of views encourages me to keep new articles coming. I have met some really wonderful people at the free flight contests and others I only know from online exchanges.

Happy New Year
Bill Kuhl

Blog Articles on Airplanes Flown in 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Going Back in Time – Model Aviation

I have never thought of myself as a “luddite”, a person that fears technology, in fact I have been working with some of the fastest moving technology, computers for many years now. I have driven hybrid cars for the last several years. Building model airplanes from balsa no doubt would be considered a hobby from the past but it is what I enjoy. Free flight model airplanes are the oldest facet of the hobby and so far most of the free flight models are still built from balsa. For other types of model planes such as radio control slope gliders balsa isn’t ideal as it breaks too easily. High performance thermal sailplanes are now constructed from materials such as fiberglass, foam, carbon fiber, and Kevlar. I went along with this when I was flying RC hand launch gliders but the idea of paying over $300 for a model airplane kit is just something I have not justified.

Evening Flying of Sniffer Free Flight
Very Functional Balsa Structure

Foam and Strapping Tape Makes for a Rugged RC Slope Glider
Modern Thermal Soaring RC Sailplane - a little spendy
My desire to build some of the older free flight models I think is partially because I feel like I missed out on free flight when I was younger flying control line and radio control models instead. Recently I built and flew a control line model although it was powered with an electric motor. Some of the free flight models I am building are from a time way before I was born however, such as the Flying Aces Moth rubber model I am building, a design from the 1920’s.  The other day I ran across videos on the Internet from people who tried to live their life in another time period by furnishing their home and wearing clothes from another time period, I doubt I will go that extreme.

Flying Aces Moth
Control Line Built This Year

Several months ago I reread a book about a modeler growing up in New York and riding the subway with large gasoline powered free flight models to fly in a park. I wrote a blog post on the book, Tales of an Ancient Modeler by Norman Rosenstock. I am now currently rereading the book by Dave Thornburg, Do You Speak Model Airplane.  Although the equipment and materials available then was nothing like we have now, the interest level in model aviation was unbelievably high back then.  Another book I just purchased, The Fascination of Flight the story of famous modeler Hank Cole I will be reading soon.

Kits and Engine for Winter Build

This past year I had great fun in flying the older designs I had built a Jetstream towline glider, Wilbur rubber model, Sniffer, and Basic Yeller PeeWee 30 model powered by a Cox PeeWee .020. For next year I am building additional glow powered models. I have obtained a couple of older glow engines a K&B .049 and K&B .19 Greenhead. In flying e20 and e36 electric free flight models I have found electric power works really well but yet I have this desire to work with the noisy and messy glow engines again. 

Basic Yeller Structure

I plan to write more blog articles about what I find most interesting in the books I am reading on model aviation history. 

Bill Kuhl

Related Links    Hank Cole story

Monday, December 4, 2017

Aviation History / Model Aviation Hobby Demo

Never do I get bored with my model aviation hobby as I have many facets in the hobby that I enjoy.  Competition in free flight and radio control sailplanes is part of it but I also enjoy flying just for fun,  model air plane building with student groups, and giving demonstration of model aviation while combining history.  My more recent demonstrations have been to older groups but I have also demonstrated in public schools and a local university.  My hope is that through practice I am getting more connected with my target audience and making the presentation more interesting. I recently did a presentation for two groups in a nursing home and they really appeared to enjoy what I presented.

Models and Posters

This blog post will be really short but I encourage those interested to check out previous blog posts on demonstrations I have done. Please consider doing a demonstration for a group, it is a lot of fun and not that hard. I have included links to some of the products I have used.

Wright Bat and Helicopter Toy used in Student Classes

Very briefly, my presentation is about the progression of ideas in aviation including the role model airplanes were part of. Then I demonstrate the progression of ideas I had starting with the very simple Foam Plate Glider (FPG-9) and then designing more complicated foam gliders and rubber powered airplanes. At the end I do a flying demonstration of some really lightweight models.

Rubber Powered Stick & Tissue Free Flight Models

Progression of Foam Glider Ideas

Rubber Powered Foam Planes

More Foam Gliders
Tiny FPV Quadcopter was Demonstrated

Bill Kuhl

Related Blog Articles

Related to Demonstration Models

Previous Presentations

Construction Articles of Foam Planes on My Website  Foam Plate and Plastic Straw Gliders  Foam Jet II Catapult Glider   Hammer Down Catapult Glider  Fantastic Foam Flyer – rubber power

Video of Practice Before Demonstration

Monday, November 27, 2017

Successful Control Line Flight

First I want to Thank all the people who viewed my first article about electric control line, Google is showing me there were over 800 views in a week.  Maybe not as dramatic I had a successful flight with my airplane on Sunday.  With my order for additional propellers arriving and a warm day for November, I decided based on suggestions people had given me, to put ends on the other set of steel lines I have and cut the lines to 52 feet. 

Happy Landing

The plane had a couple more issues that needed to be corrected before flying and I took the quick and dirty method to resolve.  Hole in covering repaired with clear tape, landing gear that was missing part of dowel attachment, I just rerouted the rubber band holding the landing gear in place. Checking the forecast the wind was 9 mph but was forecast to go to 7 mph by 3 pm.  I drive out to my preferred flying spot and realized I was missing one line connector. I had my electric RC sailplane along and thought I could just fly that but no I was not going to take the easy way out of flying my control line. It was only a couple of miles home so I drove home to get more connectors.

Repair of Covering from First Crash

I put out the lines, checked the control action and got up my courage for another flight. After pushing the start button I ran out to the handle and there was a twist in the line. I only had 20 seconds and the plane would take off, I got the twist out and the motor started to ramp up but the propeller chewed across the blacktop. Off came the small spinner, washer, and propeller. By some miracle I found everything. The threads were a little messed up but I carefully worked the spinner back on. I thought this might be another sign that I should fly it another day but no I had my nerve up.

To reinforce the landing gear I wrapped some masking tape around it, I know not a good idea but I was not going to drive home again to do a better repair. I moved the battery back slightly and in the process ripped some covering on top of the wing, more masking tape.

I double check that the lines were straight and I am ready to try another take off. This time it did not nose over and takes to the sky. It is flying pretty smooth with just a hint of bouncing from the wind. I keep it at a fairly high altitude and keep it there the entire flight. Lap after lap I fly, it was going faster with the shorter lines but the tension was good. People had warned me about getting dizzy and I was starting to feel that could happen, was this thing ever going to shutdown? 

Finally what had to be the longest two minutes ever, just as the control unit is programmed to do, it flies faster to warn of the cutoff and then the motor stops. I brought it in for a smooth landing in the grass. I was happy to say the least but quit flying the plane until proper repairs are done. 

I felt like I could fly it okay after not flying control line for many years but not overly confident. There was a period of 10 years I did not fly radio control either and thought I could fly with no help to start with. First flight of my RC plane after the long time away ended with crashing my plane in the top of a tree shortly after takeoff. I had someone stand by me the next few flights.

Bill Kuhl